Former Nike executives sue over discrimination, sexual harassment

Nike store

"For many women at Nike, the company hierarchy is an unclimbable pyramid".

Four former female employees are suing Nike for alleged gender discrimination, according to a class-action lawsuit filed on Thursday.

Nike said in a statement that the company opposes discrimination and is committed to diversity and inclusion.

Meanwhile, Cahill's complaints call out a co-worker by name-former vice president of global brand digital marketing innovation Daniel Tawiah, who left the company in April.

Laura Salerno Owens, an attorney who represents the plaintiffs, said Nike continues to have a "good-old-boys culture" in which women enter the company with lower pay, and receive smaller raises and bonuses.

The suit doesn't ask for specific damages, but instead for Nike to implement fair pay practices throughout the organization.

The news comes after a tumultuous spring for Nike, which parted ways with almost a dozen executives earlier this year following reports of workplace toxic to women and a rampant boys club culture.

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Nike has not issued a statement on the matter.

Kelly Cahill, who worked for Nike for four years as a director, and Sara Johnston, who was there for nine years, filed the complaint and several other women have joined the lawsuit. CEO Mark Parker said at the time that he was upset to find corporate bullying within the company.

Nike also announced pay increases for 7,000 employees last month, in what the company described as an effort to "support a culture in which employees feel included and empowered".

Specifically, Johnston says she resigned after discovering she was paid less and was offered fewer promotions than her male colleagues who performed comparable work. "For a woman to succeed at Nike, she must far outshine her male counterparts". After she refused his advances, the man bullied her.

Johnston says she complained to human resources, but the male coworker was promoted to a manager position that required her to work more closely with him.

The group's suit also touches on previous complaints against the brand, including budget cuts made to women's departments and allegations of sexual harassment and overall workplace hostility.

Johnston even recounted a work relationship turned sexual (non-consensually) where a male colleague to let up his sexting, which took a graphic turn once he began sending her screen shots of his swoosh. According to Cahill, Tawiah was known for referring to female employees as "dykes".

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